Unlike last week's episode there was more of interest than Randy Orton's Stockholm Syndrome. Probably the greatest item of interest was the appearance of The Daily Show's Jon Stewart. Following a passing remark Rollins made on the February 23 episode of RAW1 Stewart posted a YouTube video filmed in portrait on his phone taking Rollins to task for being a turncoat and a lackey to The Authority. Rollins responded to that by crashing Stewart's show and offering him the chance to appear on RAW.
|The Daily Show with Seth Rollins.|
Bringing in celebrities is part of the WWE package. It's foolish to get upset about it, even when the celebrities clearly have no interest in or knowledge of the product. But Stewart didn't fall into that category. He demonstrated that he's the WWE fan he claims with his general demeanour and referencing of past events (even though that's something that rarely happens in WWE) and carried himself well. Obviously his background in TV and as a stand-up comedian didn't hurt, but the overwhelming feeling after Stewart's segment was over was that he'd genuinely wanted to be a part of the show, as opposed to participating just to plug something.
The specifics of that segment were as follows. Rollins sat at a desk mocked up to look like the Daily Show set (in the ring, natch) and cracked a few jokes at Stewart's expense. The audience were fairly quiet for this but that didn't matter because Rollins, Noble and Mercury all laughed uproariously at the material. This led to Stewart interrupting and slinging some jokes of his own. Naturally his comedic timing was better than Rollins's, because he's a comedian and talks for a living while promos have never been 'Mr Money in the Bank's' strength (though in fairness he's improved greatly since his early ROH days). Being a heel Rollins got aggressive and left his seat to intimidate and manhandle Stewart. Then Randy Orton wandered out, distracting S-Roll and allowing Stewart to kick him in the privates. Orton feigned ignorance at what he'd done wrong then wandered backstage.
Throughout the programme the Intercontinental championship belt was stolen by various mid-carders. This was a continuation of a plot that's been running since Fast Lane. There Dean Ambrose left with it even though he'd been unsuccessful in challenging for it. Last week Dolph Ziggler and Daniel Bryan both showed interest in the title and R-Truth grabbed it from ringside and handed it back to Ambrose after it had been reclaimed by rightful owner Bad News Barrett.
|Ziggler handling stolen property there.|
This week Luke Harper joined the mix. I'm in favour of the multi-man ladder match that's been announced for WrestleMania and this seems an effective enough way of building towards it. The names that seem likely to be involved are all good choices too (with the possible exception of Truth). I am disappointed that Daniel Bryan might be a participant though. I'm not desperate to see him in the main event (I understand that this is Reigns' year and I'm in favour of pretty much anyone being moved up the card) but I do think he's popular enough to merit a singles match on 'The Grandest Stage of Them All'. The singles match with Dolph Ziggler that they started to set up then dropped would have been ideal.
Other than Bray Wyatt calling for The Undertaker to respond to him, Paul Heyman talking up the Reigns versus Lesnar WrestleMania main event, and Rusev again refusing to a rematch with John Cena (all of which were very good) the only other item of interest from RAW was the Divas championship match. Nikki Bella retained her title against Paige after Brie Bella interfered to deliberately cause a disqualification and save her sister from Paige's PTO submission hold.
|Unvicious knee from Nikki there.|
I make note of this match because it was clearly a response to last week's criticism that WWE do not book or pay their female performers fairly. There was a notable difference to the way in which the match was laid out. Both women worked, as Steve Austin would say, snugger than they usually would, both tossed out multiple clotheslines (something you don't often see in WWE women's matches), the match lasted longer than the average TV Divas match, and, most interestingly, there were a greater variety of moves, including an attempt at a 'Double A' spinebuster by Nikki. The changes were very clear.
This was a step in the right direction but it was far from the overhaul of the Divas division that people want. But that's to be expected. You can't change the perception of a division in a week. This was a good first step. The next changes should be focusing a little less on shilling Total Divas during women's matches and giving people that aren't AJ, Paige or the Bellas a distinct character.
All told RAW wasn't bad but it wasn't especially action-packed. If the writing team want to remind us that WrestleMania's meant to be kind of a big deal they're going to have to step up their game over the next week or two. And the sooner Orton officially turns face again the better.
1 Rollins said that he's so talented he could replace Stewart, who's retiring, as host of The Daily Show, a satirical news show. Just no.